PROFINET Executive Leadership Forum

The PROFINET Executive Leadership Forum was held on February 23 and 24 in Miami.  PI North America members GE Intelligent Platforms and Siemens cosponsored the event with us.  The Forum provided a platform for PROFINET suppliers and users to highlight how PROFINET supported their efforts to innovate.  Here’s how PI North America Executive Director Michael Bryant introduced the Forum:

We are here to learn how and, more importantly, why two industry giants have come together to support one open industry standard. Siemens and GE compete in major verticals like medical, turbines, wind power, and industrial automation.  But each has decided to base their technology innovation on a network backbone of PROFINET.  They’ve each chosen PROFINET as not just another Industrial Ethernet, but as their only Industrial Ethernet.  Another PI North America Board member, Phoenix Contact, supports other Industrial Ethernets, but uses PROFINET as their exclusive solutions backbone.

The very foundation upon which PROFINET sits profited from the same cooperative promotion in the early 80’s that is happening in this room today. I am talking of course about Ethernet. Xerox, Digital Equipment, and Intel all got together to promote Ethernet as a standard. What happened as a result? They were able to dominate proprietary systems.

In manufacturing, we talk a lot about innovation—but what we really want to know is, what are the top-tier companies doing to innovate? And if my company adopts an innovative solution, how can I be sure it is based on proven technology that delivers results?

Today, Siemens and General Electric, whose combined global footprint comprises about $250 billion in sales, will answer those questions. We’ll learn how innovative technologies impact global leadership. And we’ll learn specifically why PROFINET was chosen as the innovative networking standard, and why you, too, can trust PROFINET.

After the welcome reception and Mike’s introduction, Dave Greenfield presented some results from the Automation World Innovation Survey.  I liked the response to the survey question: “What do you consider to have been the most innovative development in automation technology over the past 10 years?”  The most frequent answer: “Integration of Ethernet at the system and device level.”


Dave then ably moderated a panel discussion that included an end user, an OEM, and two System Integrators.  The OEM said they eliminated 3 to 4 other buses and just use PROFINET without the need for gateways.  Multiple members of the panel made comments about IT.  “IT owns down to the switches; Automation, below that.”  “PROFINET benefits from IT tools.”  “Users of PROFINET benefit from IT knowledge.”  Unlike serial fieldbuses, Ethernet provides common ground between IT and Automation.  “Involve IT from the beginning!”  A surprising comment was that MES is driving adoption of Industrial Ethernets like PROFINET.  Flexibility, ease-of-use, expandability, and determinism were also cited as PROFINET benefits.

Then it was time for dinner and a great chance to network.  News from day 2 to follow soon…

–Carl Henning